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ECRI Institute Awarded AHRQ Contract to Establish National Healthcare Horizon Scanning System

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., Nov. 4, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ECRI Institute, an independent nonprofit that researches the best approaches to improving patient care, has been awarded a multi-year contract from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to establish the first national Healthcare Horizon Scanning System.

The goal of horizon scanning is to provide a comprehensive, systematic, transparent process for identifying, tracking, and monitoring new healthcare technologies, including drugs, medical devices, procedures, services, and care delivery innovations that could signal important changes in patient care, health outcomes, or the healthcare system. The horizon scanning process will contribute to AHRQ's deliberations for allocating resources for patient-centered outcomes research, and be a resource for the public more broadly.

"Every day we hear about new technologies that may lead to breakthroughs in medical science and patient care," says Karen Schoelles, MD, Project Director of the Healthcare Horizon Scanning System, and Director, ECRI Institute's Evidence-based Practice Center. "Through this exciting new program, we will assist AHRQ in identifying those interventions that hold promise for addressing the agency's priority health conditions.

AHRQ has identified fourteen high priority areas for horizon scanning and patient-centered outcomes research, including arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, depression, developmental delays, diabetes, functional limitations, infectious disease, obesity, peptic ulcer disease, pregnancy, pulmonary disease, and substance abuse.

"We will use a broad range of strategies and information resources to gather leads, collect information and diverse perspectives, and synthesize and report on them," says Vivian H. Coates, MBA, Vice President of Health Technology Assessment and Information Services at ECRI Institute. "Thought leaders from throughout the healthcare sector will be invited to offer insights at several points in the research process to help us understand the contextual landscape in which new healthcare technologies and services could come into widespread use."

ECRI Institute is the world's largest independent, nonprofit health technology assessment and patient safety organization, and dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes best enable improved patient care. ECRI Institute has served as an Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) to AHRQ since the inception of the EPC Program in 1997.

"Our 43 years of healthcare experience in comparative effectiveness research, and in evaluating the likely future use of technologies, has made us keenly aware of the usefulness of building a robust public sector horizon scanning system," says Jeffrey C. Lerner, PhD, CEO and president, ECRI Institute. "Under the AHRQ-mandated objective and transparent research process, ECRI is contractually committed to an independent look back at the accuracy of our work."

ECRI Institute's three main subcontractors, The Lewin Group, Thompson Reuters Healthcare, and Mathematica, were selected for their rich experience in healthcare horizon scanning activities, understanding of context that affects healthcare technology utilization and diffusion, and ability to independently assess the validity of a new healthcare horizon scanning system.

For more information, visit or contact ECRI Institute by mail at 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462-1298, USA; by telephone at +1 (610) 825-6000; by fax at +1 (610) 834-1275; or by e-mail at

ECRI Institute (, a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes are best to enable improved patient care. As pioneers in this science for 43 years, ECRI Institute marries experience and independence with the objectivity of evidence-based research. Strict conflict-of-interest guidelines ensure objectivity. ECRI Institute is designated as a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization and an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO, listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, strives to achieve the highest levels of safety and quality in healthcare by collecting and analyzing patient safety information and sharing lessons learned and best practices.

About ECRI Institute's Healthcare Horizon Scanning System Collaborators

The Lewin Group (, owned by Ingenix, a wholly owned subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, operates with editorial independence and for more than 40 years has provided its clients with expert and impartial healthcare and human services policy research and consulting services.

Thomson Reuters ( with its more than 140-year history, combines industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare, science, and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization. Thomson Reuters provides information and decision support tools for healthcare and information professionals, researchers, and scientists.

Mathematica Policy Research (, a 42-year-old company, strives to improve public well-being by bringing the highest standards of quality, objectivity, and excellence to bear on the provision of information collection and analysis to its clients.  In early 2008, it created the Center for Improving Research Evidence to identify, assess, and disseminate results from high quality, rigorous research. In 2010, Mathematica established the Center on Health Care Effectiveness offering broad-based expertise to provide objective evidence to inform today's difficult healthcare decisions.

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